Over the past 10 years, BCtA and its members have been advancing inclusive business models that improve lives and contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), helping to change the perception of private sector’s role in tackling the greatest issues of our time. As we look to the future, this is the ideal moment to kickstart a discussion among inclusive business actors and thought leaders on how we can shape inclusive business and accelerate progress toward the SDGs.
BCtA’s 9th Annual Forum, “Inclusive Business: Emerging Models, Collaboration and Innovation,” on the side lines of the United Nations General Assembly, aims to spur ideation among inclusive and impactful business with real-world examples of business models that accelerate the achievement of the SDGs. We will look at how businesses are seizing the opportunities to grow and develop while generating the significant societal and environmental benefits that their customers, investors and the global community value.
The Forum will open with a keynote address from a business leader sharing a vision for the future of inclusive business. Two expert panel discussions will deep dive into how we can leverage these models and work towards building a more sustainable and inclusive global economy. We will discuss the opportunities and bottlenecks of implementing new innovative inclusive business models and what collaboration and innovation means as we move closer to 2030. The Forum will then continue with breakout sessions focusing on specific topics within inclusive business (topics to be confirmed).
Leading innovators from corporates to start-ups will discuss the future of inclusive business, guided by an expert audience representing governments, the UN and other ecosystem actors. We will explore solutions through a lens of feasibility and scalability, potential to address truly global challenges, degree of supporting advocacy, and applicability to market failures beyond the scope of government and industry.
A decade ago, BCtA was launched with just 18 companies at the helm. During our inauguration, then-prime minister of the UK Gordon Brown said: “Business Call to Action is a landmark opportunity for global business leaders to come together to develop new and innovative ways to spread growth, prosperity and opportunity across the world.” Today, with over 230 members spanning 70 countries, that statement is truer than ever. New ideas and innovation continue to drive our members’ efforts to reach further and achieve greater impact, all the while striving towards enhancing company value and profit.
The difference between now and then, however, is that there is a different state of play. On the one hand, the SDGs provide a common framework for all stakeholders to help us tackle the most complex and pressing challenges of our time. For businesses, they offer a comprehensive perspective on risks and opportunities to their businesses today and the near future. More so, leading companies understand and integrate the objective of contributing to viable and prosperous societies, in which they can grow in the long-term, into their strategies, operations, products and services. Our survey, carried out in partnership with consultancy GlobeScan, on the State of Inclusive Business revealed that companies are increasingly seeing the value of aligning their strategies with the SDGs.
A more robust body of evidence now exists around how societal value and business value are compatible – and in fact better together. Our companies are testament to this, many having achieved their BCtA commitments and recommitted as they scale their inclusive businesses. A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group involving 300 companies globally across four sectors confirmed a positive link between responsible environmental, social and governance (ESG) business practices and a business’s bottom line.
Moreover, the rapid march of technology means that many countries and regions that have lagged behind now have an opportunity to more rapidly address development challenges than ever before through the integration of inclusive business models and digitalisation. On the other hand, we are faced with very real and urgent challenges in an environment of increased political and economic complexity. In terms of climate change, we now know that time is short – dramatic and comprehensive changes are needed in order to reverse or slow the catastrophic effects our current practices are having on our world, as starkly outlined in the recently published IPCC report. Compounding this all is a lack of political will. Data from the COP24 summit in Poland shows only a small fraction of signatory countries (16 of 197) of the Paris Agreement are meeting their commitments.
There will be dramatic consequences for society at all levels, leaving millions more in poverty, unless we manage these challenges at unprecedented scale and pace. The 9th Annual Forum seeks to highlight and strengthen solutions that do just that.